Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Good Books...

I recently finished an ARC of The Concrete Maze, by author Steven Torres. This book marks his first effort at book-length noir/hardboiled fiction (he's written a series of police procedurals set in Puerto Rico that I need to check out). Anyway, it's a doozy. Fans of the genre will find all the classic elements at play here - urban setting, drugs, prostitution and plenty of desperation and impending doom. What's different is the strong sense of familial loyalty and love at the heart of the story.

In short, THE CONCRETE MAZE follows Luis Ramos's search for his 13 y.o. daughter, Jasmine. When Jasmine goes missing from the local skating rink, Luis presses his nephew Marc into service to help find her. Told from Marc's POV, the search is stymied by an apathetic response from local police, reluctant friends, and some seriously nasty bad guys. Luis Ramos is an unlikely, but formidable hero determined to get his daughter back. He gets his daughter back, but she is literally in pieces. The search shifts to finding his daughter's killer, and Luis is no less dogged in his pursuit. The conclusion left this reader torn between grief and disbelief, tempered by the sense of justice served.

My only quibble is that I tend to need sensory detail to ground myself in a fictional world - I could have used a little more of that in this book. I'm not familiar with NYC and I had some trouble getting settled into the "reality" of THE CONCRETE MAZE. On the other hand, this added to the extended dance remix nightmare feeling of days on end of a search that is marked by anxiety, lack of sleep, and plenty of violence. So while I would have liked a little more sensory detail, the book worked well overall and I suspect fans of the genre will be thrilled with THE CONCRETE MAZE. You can pick it up at the end of July, early August. Or you can be smart and pre-order from Amazon, B&N, or your local indie.

In the midst of the craziness of mid-June, I was able to squeeze in a quick trip to The Poisoned Pen bookstore to see Megan Abbott, Sara Gran, and Vicki Hendricks show some film noir clips and talk about noir and their books. I picked up a copy of QUEENPIN while I was there. I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved it. My only problem is that I'm now compelled to track down and shell out the cash for the other two books that Abbott has penned. My book budget is groaning, but it's gotta happen and sooner rather than later.

QUEENPIN is...well, I'm not even going to talk about the story line. Okay, let's just say it's about the protoge of a high-class tough lady who is in tight with the mob sharks of early 1960's Las Vegas. What's really great about this book is the voice and the writing. Yes, yes, the action is intense, the pace fast, the distinctly noirish story arc inevitable, but the voice is crystal clear and the writing as sharp and delicate as a butterfly with razor blade wings. I could feel the fabrics of the dresses, smell the rust and decay of the garbage dump, all while my ears rang with the thunder of horse hooves at the track mixed with the crowd noise of the casinos. Like the protag, I found myself wanting more at the story's end. If you like period noir, you'll love this book. Seriously. Don't put it off, 'cause you'll be sorry if ya do.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Okay, not the best photo (I've been promised pics from Newt & Howe's photographer...still waiting on those), but I like this one. Victoria Williams is on guitar, Howe Gelb on acoustic guitar, and on the left side, grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat is Newt Lynn. In a weird way, Newt is at the nexus of the Raven, the Howe/Victoria show, and Coyote Radio.

A few years back when Newt was finishing up his degree at Prescott College, Andrew convinced him to do sound effects for Coyote Radio Theater. Poor Newt didn't know what he was getting himself in for! He was our foley artist during the monthly Coyote shows at The Mad Linguist - not a low stress gig. The "Mad" shows were broadcast on KJZA, and while a lot of fun, were a tremendous amount of work. Imagine trying to corral 4 voice actors, a foley guy, a sound guy, the director and a musician with 30 minutes of new material to be rehearsed and performed every month. Not to mention the massive amounts of scripts written - many that were rejected w/o ever being performed - and add onto that the technical stuff of remote radio broadcast and a pile o' poets and audience folk. You get the picture. Great fun, but exhausting.

Anyway, Newt eventually graduated and went back to LA (that's Louisiana, not L.A.) for a few years while Coyote soldiered on at a slightly less frenetic pace. Then he came back to Prescott for a visit. Andrew, the eternal dreamer/schemer, had been thinking about the radio station & was convinced that the ultimate place for it would be co-located with a coffee house. The stars had aligned...Newt had a friend (hi, Ty!) who was thinking about opening up a cafe and Newt thought it was an idea worth exploring. A year and a half ago, The Raven Cafe and Coyote Radio Studio opened their doors. Saturday, July 7, 2007, Coyote Radio sent out its first broadcast on AM 1610. The first song that went out over the airwaves "TWO" from Ryan Adams latest.

So the show was awesome, the crowd was really respectful, and the broadcast went well. Been a long time coming, but it was one of the happiest nights of my life. Lots of work ahead - already making lists of equipment needed, issues to be addressed, fundraising, radio shows formats, etc., etc. But for one night, I didn't worry about any of that. I just sat back and enjoyed the show and the look of pride on the hubster's face.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Victoria Williams and/or Howe Gelb, here are a few YouTube links...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Countdown to Transmission...

Phil Hammon came over a few days ago to help the hubster figure out how to set up the transmitter. After lots o' beer and fresh strawberry daquiris, they think they figured out the basics. Yesterday, the hubster went up on the roof of the Raven and set the damn thing up. Today, he tunes the transmitter to the right frequency (should involve much running up and down the ladder and driving around listening for the signal). All this is in preparation for the Howe Gelb/Victoria Williams show tonight at the Raven - the very first thing broadcast on Coyote Radio's LP-AM radio station!

This whole dealio is the culmination of years of dreaming, Day of the Dead dinner show benefits, research, networking and tons o' hard work. It's not the FM community radio station that the hubster had his heart set on, but a Low-Power AM station is a helluva lot closer than...nothing. And really, "nothing" isn't a fair assessment, either. He's been putting out content for download off the web for ages now - everything from interviews with artists and musicians to slam poetry to OTR (Old-Time Radio theater shows) to Coyote Radio Theater ("New" radio theater)shows. He's been a busy dude. I'm so excited for him to have his dream of community radio take its first steps across the AM airwaves of Prescott tonight!

Over the next few months, there will be a lot of kinks to be worked out, questions to be answered, new partnerships to be explored. Coyote Radio will be partnering with Prescott College this fall, and we're really excited to see what new content and ideas come out of that relationship. It's absolute Capra-Corn, but I love this mountain town and it gives me pure joy to know that we're doing something to give back a little. Now Prescott will have a new venue to communicate better with both the outside world and the folks living here.

Rock on Coyote!